What matters to Kenyans living and working in Nairobi?¬†Mercer’s latest study found meaningful gaps between what workers in these emerging cities value when it comes to deciding where to live and work, and what employers believe are important to them.

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, recently met with thought leaders to have an open dialogue about capitalising on the growth trajectory of emerging megacities in Africa.

Findings indicate that, as Nairobi is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa with a high youth population that forms the majority of the workforce, it is important for companies and multinationals in mega cities like this to focus on ways to accelerate talent strategies while meeting the needs of workers.

Says Deon de Swardt, Principal Consultant at Mercer: “Not only is it important for employers to promote the transformation by implementing measures that will make an impact and change the mindset, there is also a need to lead multi-stakeholder efforts to address pain points at scale.”

Some of the other highlights of the dialogue centered on guiding principles for rethinking the workforce of the future and how this is critical in building a more sustainable business.

While commenting on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in securing economic opportunities and growth, Pearly Siffel, Strategy, Geographic Expansion Leader International at Mercer says: “While technology is important, putting people first will better enable organisations to succeed.”

The People First Emerging Megacities report is an extensive study that examines the needs of workers in the world’s fastest-growing cities across four key factors – human, health, money and work. The study also gives a critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of fierce competition for highly-skilled talent.

Employers believe workers prioritise money and other work-related factors when deciding whether to switch cities. But this isn’t the case. Most important to workers are the human and social factors essential to the quality of life. These include overall life satisfaction, security and safety, and proximity to family and friends. Although workers do rank total income as third, it is the only money factor in the top five.

The study found that 89% of workers in Nairobi, Kenya say that having employer-subsidized health and wellness programs is very important to them. 67 percent of workers also rank security, safety, and lack of violence as the top reason to stay in or leave their city.

Although the study’s 15 current and future megacities share some commonalities, some key differences were revealed. Based on performance against the four pillars mentioned above, the cities were grouped into advanced, progressing or approaching¬†in terms of whether they meet worker’s expectations. Advanced cities score well in all four factors, with a small-to-medium gap between workers’ expectations and the city’s performance.

Overall, employers believe career and work opportunities, work satisfaction, and pay and bonuses are the most important to their workforce.

However, while these elements may be important to attract and keep workers, businesses must also tailor their solutions, approaches and communications to the individual needs of each group to ensure they feel empathetically understood. For instance, white-collar professionals and graduates are particularly interested in career advice and thrive on interventions such as talent assessments.

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